Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guest Author Post: Kate McMurray on The Genre Road Less Traveled

Synopsis: One of the few joys in Dan's life is the TV show Junk Shop, a reality show about antiques hosted by the handsome and charismatic Malcolm Tell. Then an old music box turns up, and Dan's sister encourages him to try to get on the show and meet the object of his affection. He does, and his life changes completely.

When Dan and Malcolm first meet, they have a sudden vision of a couple from the past. Is it a glimpse at a past life or something else entirely? They agree to work together to figure out what is going on, and they stumble upon a forgotten Celtic myth that may explain everything. If the myth is true, then Dan and Malcolm could be a pair of lovers who have been reincarnated over and over again over two thousand years. That seems impossible, but it's hard to deny that something very strange is happening.

As Dan and Malcolm work to find the truth, they fall for each other hard. But searching for who they really are puts them both in grave danger, and they find themselves racing against time to keep their happily ever after.

If you had asked me five years ago, I would have told you there was no way on earth I’d ever write a fantasy novel.

I’ve never been a big fantasy reader. There’s no reason that I can put a finger on for why. I guess I like stories grounded in the real world. I have read most of the fantasy classics and a few others at friends’ suggestions—and greatly enjoyed them even!—but the fantasy aisle of the bookstore is never the first place I think to look for new reading material, if you know what I mean.

A few years ago, I wrote Across the East River Bridge, which features a pair of ghosts. That was my first foray into writing anything paranormal or speculative. Well, I have an old manuscript about a psychic sitting on my hard drive; that probably won’t ever see the light of a bookstore. (They’re not all winners!) Even in Across the East River Bridge, though, the ghosts are sort of beside the point. They drive the plot forward, but the book is really about the relationship between the main characters and the way they work together to solve the book’s central mystery.

I can’t say the same about Show and Tell. The climax of that novel is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever written. I love the book, but it really challenged me to think outside of my narrow worldview as a reader and writer of mostly nice little contemporary romances. (Well, and baseball I seem to have garnered myself a reputation as the lady who writes m/m baseball stories. Not that I’m complaining!)

Why is writing fantasy so scary? For one thing, I always thought fantasy would be really hard to write. And it is; you have to create this whole world for your characters to inhabit, set a lot of rules, make it otherworldly but still plausible. Fantasy writers have told me that writing stories set in the real world is harder because you have to research, whereas in fantasy, you just make stuff up. Sure, okay, but I set most of my books in New York, where I live. If I need to know what something looks like, I can just... get on the subway. I’m kind of lazy that way. Creating a fantasy world requires a tremendous amount of creativity.

But there are ideas that pull at me. I’ve always been fascinated by a few paranormal, or I suppose more fantastical, themes. Ghosts are one, and maybe I’m crazy, but I’m not completely sure they don’t exist. Whether psychics are real is another. And reincarnation. I’ve always really liked the idea that two people maybe knew each other in a past life.

Show and Tell is kind of a hybrid of contemporary and fantasy. I’d call it “urban fantasy,” since it’s a fantasy story set in New York City, but I think urban fantasy has certain connotations and expectations. There are no vampires or werewolves to be found in my novel. (Well, okay, there is an evil shapeshifter.) But I started with the contemporary story as a base—a guy who is a huge fan of a reality show about an antique shop goes to meet the host of the show and they are instantly smitten with each other—and then layered in the story of reincarnated gods who may or may not be alive and well on the streets of New York. Weird stuff happens. There are magical objects and visions of past lives. There’s a whole scene that is not even on this earthly plane.

I still tell myself I won’t ever write a novel about vampires, but never say never, eh?

Kate McMurray is the author of such m/m novels as Out in the Field (that's the one with the baseball) and the Rainbow Award-winning Across the East River Bridge. She is currently serving as Vice President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT special interest chapter of RWA. When she’s not writing, Kate works as a nonfiction editor, knits, chases her cat around her apartment, and plays the violin. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. You can find her on the Internet at